'Beauty and the Beast' comes out with gay character to honor lyricist Ashman
March 17, 2017 12:00 AM
Luke Evans, left, is Gaston and Josh Gad is LeFou in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," a live-action adaptation of the studio's animated classic directed by Bill Condon.
LeFou, portrayed by Josh Gad, is subtly revealed to be gay in the live-action Disney film "Beauty and the Beast."
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon unleashed some beastly sentiment when he said in a pre-release interview that a character in the live-action film is revealed, over the course of the movie, as gay.
Josh Gad as LeFou, the devoted sidekick to egomaniacal Gaston, evolves over the course of the film, questions Gaston’s cruelty, and in a subtle way is revealed to be gay.
The director said the idea was to honor the original lyricist, Howard Ashman, who died of AIDS at age 40 in 1991.
Mr. Condon’s comments were widely reported, and Mr. Gad (Carnegie Mellon University Class of 2003) tweeted that he was honored to be the first gay character in a Disney film.
The minor pushback also was widely reported when an Alabama drive-in theater said it would not show “Beauty and the Beast” because, “When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices, and I am making mine,” according to its Facebook page.
Many in the entertainment industry have spoken out about the controversy.
Ewan McGregor, who plays the talking singing candelabra Lumiere, told Stephen Colbert, “It’s just like, he’s a gay character. It’s 2017 for [expletive’s] sake.”
“Can I just say, I’m sort of sick of this,” Mr. Condon told Vulture, the pop culture arm of New York magazine. “Because [when] you’ve seen the movie — it’s such a teeny thing, and it’s been overblown.”
Mr. Gad told People magazine that the quick cut of him dancing with a man is “subtle but incredibly effective.”
A new documentary, “God Bless You, Howard Ashman,” about the lyricist who also wrote songs for “The Little Mermaid” and “Little Shop of Horrors” is in the works through the Independent Documentary Association.
According to the IDA website, “The film will capture the humanity of the person behind the magical work, the true stories behind the fantastical scenes, and the courage of a man who kept writing music despite the ravages of AIDS.”
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